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MechWarrior: Tactical Command iPad Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on October 3, 2012


MechWarrior: Tactical Command
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Unique one-finger tactical control system; mostly intuitive design - if flawed (see con).
  • Zoned damage makes combat encounters pivotal to your success or painful failure.

CONS

  • Terrible AI pathing and line-of-sight issues; mechs regularly either refuse to move, head in the wrong direction, or refuse to fire - makes them (at best) unreliable tactical assets.
  • Assist and 'capture' features require only one unit selected; difficult to pull off as indicators don't switch on/off correctly, so it's hard to know who is available.

VERDICT

MechWarrior: Tactical Command is riddled with poorly implemented features that hint at a much greater tactical experience, but instead make a rich combat-focused universe feel like a slap-fest.


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The release of MechWarrior: Tactical Command on the iOS platform may seem like a somewhat archaic franchise to resurrect for the modern gamer, but with MechWarrior Tactics pulling in old fans it was going to be now or never. Modeled after the real-time tactical wing of the MechWarrior franchise (MechCommander), Personae Studios manages to capture many of the detailed points from the series, while stumbling over everything else, including the controls, presentation and storyline.

Summarily it feels like a bit of a mess, even before you manage to finish the tutorial campaign and start tinkering with the innards of each of your hulking battle-mechs.

Much like the original MechCommander, Tactical Command places you in command of a small squad of mechs that must complete their missions given the limited amount of resources available. More often than not, what you enter the stage with is all you’ll have to defeat hordes of enemies and tough-as-nails defensive positions, but capturing objectives can turn the tide in your favor.

Sadly pulling all of this off is an exercise in frustration as you trudge around muddy environments scaled to suit the extreme size of the vehicles you’re controlling, with insufficient camera controls (specifically the ability to zoom out) to deal with the long-range weaponry many of the mech’s pack. Everything else is controlled via a series of taps or ‘holds’ on the screen to open context menus, something that becomes especially frustrating as you attempt to assist a fellow mech, only to be denied as you need to first deselect every mech (barr one) to complete the action; the controls fight you at every turn, making what should be a snap tactical-decision in to a complex series of gestures.

The addition of scouting drones and other non-mech related power-ups does provide some level of tactical advantage to your arsenal, but more often than not you’ll find a patrol, run in while strafing the missile fire, rinse-repeat until you’re done.

For a franchise that touts such a deeply defined set of mechanics, Tactical Command comes off as a sort of distant relation to the series that echos familiar phrases, but fails to elicit the joy of stomping around and pitting deadly machines against each other.

Screenshots

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